Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nationals comes to town

We're proud to announce that the ASBPE National Conference and Azbee Awards Banquet will take place next year in Kansas City!

Mark your calendars for July 24 and 25, and make plans to spend them with us at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Country Club Plaza.

Have an idea for us? Send it to asbpekc [at] gmail [dot] com.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Meeting Recap: Freelance contracts need to address copyright, plagiarism

Editors wanting to avoid copyright and plagiarism legal problems need to focus on the specifics of contracts with freelance writers, said Jean Maneke of The Maneke Law Group in Kansas City. Be aware of electronic archive rights within those contracts, too, she said.

Maneke, who has represented the Missouri Press Association as its hotline attorney since 1991, was the featured speaker in “A Copyright and Plagiarism Primer” presentation given Aug. 8 during a Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Business Publication Editors’ luncheon at McCormick & Schmick’s in Kansas City.

Maneke said editors should ask themselves three questions when dealing with copyright issues:
  • What rights do I have?
  • What rights am I taking away from somebody?
  • What rights am I giving to somebody else?
Publishing companies generally own the copyright rights to stories written by their employees, but freelance writers can own the copyright rights to their own materials. Freelance contracts need to define who has first publications rights and electronic archive rights. Maneke said lately she has seen a lot of litigation involving electronic archive rights.

Another issue might pop up if a third party, perhaps another publishing company, asks the editor for permission to use the freelancer’s story. Does the freelance contract give the editor the right to allow such permission?

“Those are the kinds of things you need to think about when dealing with copyright,” Ms. Maneke said.

Plagiarism can occur among both writers employed by the publishing company and freelance writers. Every freelance contract should say plagiarism will not be tolerated, Maneke said, but that step still will not keep publishing companies out of trouble. They still will be liable even if the freelance writer plagiarized a story without the company’s knowledge.

The publishing company can turn around and sue a freelance writer if the publishing company is sued for plagiarism, but that tactic may meet with little success. If a publishing company faces a $1 million fine, it can sue the freelance writer, but a good chance exists the freelance writer will be unable to pay a $1 million fine, she said.

It may be impossible for editors to catch plagiarism before publication, Maneke said. No one has time to use Google on the Internet to research whether stories were plagiarized.

Editors should know what constitutes plagiarism. Publishing companies legitimately may use material from another source provided the material is presented as news or education and the other source receives attribution, she said. Just don’t use the entire story. Logos and photographs can be used as long as they are part of news material.

She added paraphrasing a statement does not avoid plagiarism and words lifted in their entirety must have quote marks. Use of facts is not plagiarism, but if the facts contain the original author’s interpretation, they must have attribution.

Advertising is different. Problems may arise in certain situations, such as when you use a photograph or a song for an advertisement, or where you are making money off the photo or song.

Maneke added editors need to know the difference between copyright and trademark.

“Everybody confuses copyright and trademark,” she said.

Copyright is the expression of an idea in tangible form. A trademark represents a product or service.

Copyright rights exist for anything that is put down on paper. You do not have to register to have copyright rights, but you must register if you want to file suit. The Library of Congress has copyright forms that you may fill out online.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

August meeting: A copyright and plagiarism primer

The Kansas City chapter of the ASBPE invites you to attend our August meeting. We'll share the key elements that all editors and art directors need to know about copyrights and plagiarism in print and on the web.

Speakers: Jean Maneke of The Maneke Law Group

Date: Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Location: Private room at McCormick and Schmick’s on the Country Club Plaza (448 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo., 64112; 816-531-6800)

Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members

RSVP: To reserve your spot for the luncheon, e-mail Bill King or call 913-338-1503, by Monday, Aug. 6.

Also: We will be honoring the Kansas City Area regional winners in ASBPE’s 2007 Azbee Awards of Excellence

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Act now to save on attending the ASBPE National Conference

If you haven't already, now is the time to register to attend the 2007 ASBPE National Editorial Conference and Azbee Awards of Excellence banquet in New York City, Aug. 2-3, at The Roosevelt Hotel.

Monday, July 9 is the deadline to get the group rate of $229 a night at the

Next Friday, July 13 is the deadline for early registration discounts for the
conference and national awards banquet. Registering before then will save you $25 per banquet
registration, $100 on one-day conference attendance, and up to $180 (non-members) or $80 (members) on full conference registration.

You can register online (credit card required) or get a printable registration form (1.2MB PDF).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Question of the week #8

How is blogging from a game any different than radio coverage?

They are both live coverage, says Lance Jugmeyer, editor of The Packer at Vance Publishing. His question and comments are in response to a recent news clip from the Courier-Journal. According to the paper, the credentials of one of its reporters was revoked because he was blogging from the press box at a University of Louisville game. The paper says the move imposes on First Amendment rights. The school says it was merely following the policies set by the NCAA. For the full story, click here.

(Thanks to our ASBPE KC secretary Jeff Geleski who provided the news clip.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Workshop Recap: Details add energy to your stories

Recognize where your story has energy, John Lofflin said. Then think about moving that part of the story closer to the top, he added.

A journalism professor at Park University in Parkville, Mo., Lofflin also serves as special assignment editor for Veterinary Economics, an Advanstar Veterinary Healthcare Communications publication based in n Lenexa, Kan. He gave the presentation “The Art of Storytelling: How to Make a Boring Story Interesting” at the Spring Writing and Editing Workshop on May 15 in Overland Park, Kan. The Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Business Publication Editors organized the event held at the Brookridge Country Club.

Lofflin said he finds it difficult to explain his energy theory to students. The energy happens when a writer, at one point in the story, recognizes he or she has nailed it and becomes inspired. The writing happens at a quicker pace.

Sometimes a direct quote sparks the energy. Details give a story energy, too.

“Detail is a thing you have to learn to see,” he said.

Details can give a reader a sense of being at the event, or peering over the reporter’s shoulder during an interview. Details can cause a reader to interact with the story on a sensual level.

Even if reporters are unable to attend an event in person, they can use other tactics to obtain detail. Lofflin said he uses Google Earth on his computer to learn about places. Using this strategy once, he said he felt confident calling a Colorado town a two-story town.

He gave another example of calling back a veterinarian while writing a story about animal abuse. He wanted to know the weight of a cat that had died. It led to this sentence: “Excuse Dr. Brett Levitsky if his blood still runs hot when he’s asked to remember that April day in 2004 when 9-pound Darwin was laid on his exam table DOA.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Workshop Recap: Keep clutter out of your stories

This lead just won’t do: Ron Johnson talked about copy editing Tuesday afternoon.

Ron Johnson even said it won’t do, and he has taught editing and design classes at Kansas State University since 1989. Johnson gave the presentation “Big Picture Editing Techniques: The Nuts and Bolts of Weaving a Story Together” at the Spring Writing and Editing Workshop on May 15 in Overland Park, Kan. The Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Business Publication Editors organized the event held at the Brookridge Country Club.

Besides weak leads, Johnson gave suggestions on making transitions brief, providing just enough background information and avoiding paragraphs that say the same thing as the quotes that follow.

“Don’t make people hack through your verbiage to get to your cool stuff,” he said.

Johnson said writers may decide on a news lead and use the “who, what, when, where and how” of a story. However, he added, you do not need all five of those elements in the lead. You can select the most important ones for the first paragraph and add the other ones later.

Narrative leads, he said, can allow a writer to use one person’s perspective to illustrate the story’s big picture. Narrative leads tend to work better in longer stories, he said.

Stories in trade publications generally need adequate background information early on in the story, he said. Writers should try to summarize the information in a sentence or two.

Diversify sentence lengths and paragraph lengths throughout the story, he said. While reporting, writers should shop for a lead quote and a concluding quote. The lead quote can go high up in the story, like in the second or third paragraph.

And to finish? Johnson said, “The direct quote is about always the best way to end a story.”

Monday, May 21, 2007

Workshop Recap: Place content in various media platforms

The day of relying solely on print publications for revenue and readers is gone. Surveys show nearly half of the people who read newspapers online do not read the print editions, said Tom Eblen, a newspaper consultant and retired University of Kansas professor. Like the rest of the journalism industry, business-to-business publishing companies need to utilize various forms of media, not just print.

Eblen gave the presentation “The Straight Scoop: Radical Changes in Communications and How to Adapt to Continue to Serve our Readers” at the Spring Writing and Editing Workshop organized by the Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Business Publication Editors. The May 15 event was held at the Brookridge Country Club, Overland Park, Kan.

Eblen gave two examples outside of business-to-business publishing as ways to use media platforms successfully.

ESPN’s content lives on all media platforms, Eblen said. The company’s product can be found anywhere, from video games to mobile phones to websites. Walt Disney, ESPN’s parent company, now wants all of its companies to follow ESPN’s example, he said.

Closer to Kansas City, Eblen pointed to the success of The World Company in Lawrence, Kan. The company places stories in its print publications (the most well-known being the Lawrence Journal-World), online and on TV (the company owns Channel 6, a Lawrence TV station). The media outlets often cross promote each other.

Business-to-business publications may have an advantage over other media outlets, such as daily newspapers, Eblen said. A B-to-B publication wants to reach a segmented, specialized audience. Across all media platforms, a B-to-B publication may have a defined marketplace, as opposed to an undifferentiated marketplace.

When deciding how much to invest in online content, publications should know the average age of their readers. People under 30 tend to turn to online content exclusively for news, he said. People in their 50s are more likely to read newspapers.

Websites should be simple to use. No task should require 10 clicks of a computer mouse. Magazine content from at least 10 years back should be on website archives. Every publication should have its own website and lead in its category.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wanted: Bilingual associate editor

At Vance Publishing, we need a Bilingual Associate Editor for the The Packer within Vance’s food360° Division. You will play a key role in integrating our products and expanding our presence into the Hispanic market.

As the Associate Editor you will:
  • Receive assignments and evaluate news leads to develop stories for both print and online media
  • Gather and verify factual information regarding the story by interview, observation and research
  • Translate existing articles into both languages
  • Coordinate and edit copy from freelancers
  • Travel to industry events and conventions
  • Travel to growing regions in the U.S. and Latin America for enterprise reporting
  • Take photography and video during your travels
Qualified candidates will possess the following:
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism or equivalent experience
  • Bilingual language skills (Spanish/English)
  • Two years of reporting experience preferred
  • Superior writing and editing skills
  • Proficiency with HTML
  • Valid passport is required.
Vance provides a competitive salary, Profit Sharing/401(k), paid time off, and a comprehensive benefits package that includes medical, dental, life and AD&D insurance. Vance also offers tuition-assistance programs.

Please send your resume, salary requirements and relevant clips/URLs to: Vance Publishing Corporation ATTN: Human Resources 400 Knightsbridge Parkway Lincolnshire, IL 60069; Fax (847) 634-4336;

ASBPE on hypertext ads

For an update on the debate about sponsored links in editorial content on the web, check out this article on the national ASBPE website: "What ASBPE, B2B bloggers said about paid links in articles."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Only two days left to register!

Our Spring Writing and Editing Workshop is just around the corner, have you called Bill King to reserve your spot?

With three power-house journalism professors, this is an afternoon you won't want to miss.

After a delicious lunch at the Brookridge Country Club, Retired KU professor Tom Eblen will help you to step back and take a fresh look at your publication.

And by popular demand, Professor Ron Johnson is returning to help us brush up on those tricky, advanced editing techniques.

We will end our afternoon with Professor John Lofflin, who will discuss the art of storytelling, and how to make it work for your publication--no matter the subject matter.

To reserve your spot, call or e-mail Bill King (913-338-1503 or by noon on Friday.

Date: Tuesday, May 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (includes lunch)

Location: Brookridge Golf & Country Club, 8223 W 103rd St, Overland Park (103rd St. & Antioch)

Cost: $55 for ASBPE members, $70 for non-members, $30 for students

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ethics controversy continues at Ziff Davis; ASBPE clarifies ethics guidelines

Note: This post comes from the ASBPE Boston Blog and was made by Martha Spizziri. Link:
ASBPE Boston Blog: Ziff Davis, eWeek, Again Subject of Ethics Controversy.

The same day I posted about a recent Folio: profile of Ziff Davis Media, B2B publishing consultant Paul Conley published a blog post titled "Ziff Davis crosses the ethics line again."

Conley's post centers around Ziff Davis' decision to once again use Vibrant Media's IntelliTXT in-context ads on some of its sites, after pulling them from eWeek earlier this year. (See earlier post on this blog, "eWeek/IntelliTXT Flap," and two earlier posts on Paul Conley's blog, "eWeek crosses an ethical line" and " eWeek retreats in ads-within-edit scandal" for background.) The ads are back in eWeek and also appear on the company's CIO Insights web site.

Folio: published a story about the controversy on May 3. The article quotes Ziff Davis editorial director and senior VP Michael Vizard as saying "The IntelliTXT ads are clearly labeled as advertisements in compliance with existing ASME and ASBPE guidelines as we understand them. Should these officially recognized bodies adopt specific policies related to IntelliTXT ads, we would welcome that clarification and would also be inclined to comply with those guidelines."

ASBPE's ethics guidelines do, in fact, state that links within editorial content should be under editorial control. But in response to Vizard's statement, the ASBPE ethics committee has attempted to clarify the issue. The last sentence of the relevant portion of our Code of Preferred Editorial Practices, Section VII, Paragraph D, previously read:
Contextual links within editorial content should not be sold, and generally should not link to a vendor’s Web site, unless it is pertinent to the editorial content or helpful to the reader.
It now reads:
Contextual links within editorial content should not be sold. If an editor allows a link, it generally should not link to a vendor’s Web site, unless it is pertinent to the editorial content or helpful to the reader.
ASBPE national president Roy Harris relayed this change to Folio: and it was posted as an addendum to the May 3 article. As Roy says in an accompanying statement to Folio:, "We feel the code offers a clear guideline: Editors, not publishers or ad-sales folks, should make the final decisions on ALL uses of links within edit copy. Also, ad links within editorial text should NOT be sold under any condition."

A short news item about the whole matter will soon be issued by ASBPE national and posted on the ASBPE web site. I'll post an update when it appears. In the meantime, here are other posts on the topic:

From ASBPE ethics committee member Jeff Seglin:
From Paul Conley's blog:
From custom publisher Rex Hammock's blog:
For a contrarian view, see this post on Eric Shanfelt's personal blog:
(Shanfelt is a former senior VP of emedia at Penton Media Inc.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring workshop: Now registering

Tired of writing the same old boring stuff, day after day, month after month? Imagine how your readers must feel.

The Kansas City chapter of the ASBPE invites you to attend our Spring Writing and Editing Workshop at the Brookridge Golf & County Club on Tuesday, May 15. Join us for lunch and an afternoon filled with creative ideas on how to turn your magazine into an award-winning publication that leaves your readers counting the days until your next issue comes out.

Our Spring workshop features three highly acclaimed journalism professors who will give you ideas on ways to make bad stories good, and good stories, great — and for only a half-day's investment of your time.

Registration is now open, so mark your calendar and sign up now.

Who should attend: any writer, editor, or even publisher who is interested in learning (and sharing) ways to improve the quality of their publication's editorial content.

  • Tom Eblen will help you see your publication with a new eye. He is a retired journalism professor from the University of Kansas and is currently an editorial consultant for the Kansas Press Association
  • Ron Johnson will provide advanced editing techniques. Johnson is a journalism professor at Kansas State University.
  • John Lofflin will reveal the art of storytelling for B2B. He is journalism professor at Park University and a veteran freelance writer.
Date: Tuesday, May 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (includes lunch)

Location: Brookridge Golf & Country Club, 8223 W 103rd St, Overland Park (103rd St. & Antioch)

Cost: $55 for ASBPE members, $70 for non-members, $30 for students

RSVP: To reserve your spot for the workshop, e-mail Bill King at, or call 913-338-1503, by Friday, May 11.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Meeting Recap: Dirt cheap design done right

Magazine designers and editors want first rights on the use of high-resolution photographs. Obtaining the photographs for little or no charge ranks as another high priority, especially since business-to-business publications tend to have limited design budgets.

More than 30 attendees heard advice on how to come as close to that ideal situation as possible at “Dirt cheap design,” the title of a March 7 meeting of the Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Business Publication Editors held at Hayward’s Pit Bar B Que in Overland Park, Kan.

The two speakers, Jennifer Ray and Danica Tormohlen, deal with their own art budgets. They seek photography and design help inside and outside their respective companies.

Ray, senior art director with Penton Media in Overland Park, designs for American School & University magazine, which has no design budget, and Club Industry’s Fitness Business Pro magazine, which has a budget of $1,500. Besides winning two Maggies, five TOCAs and one national ASBPE award, Ray also has judged the Maggies, ASPBE and Ozzie awards.

Tormohlen works for Ascend Media Publications in Overland Park and serves as editor of EXPO Magazine, which has a design budget of $500 per month. In 2005, Tormohlen and her editorial team won the Folio; Magazine Eddie Award for Editorial Excellence and the min’s B-to-B of the Web for website redesign.

Stock up
Subscriptions to digital art Web sites have become a cost-effective way to find photos, or at least a more inexpensive way then buying compact discs, Ray said. Another option is the web.

“There are tons of different sites out there,” Ray said. “Some of them are better than others.” The art sites are set up differently. Some allow designers to pay a rate fee to download a certain number of photographs per month or per day. Some digital art websites that offer credit programs to purchase specific pieces.

A few sites worth reviewing include:
Source key
Sources are another way to find art. In her assignment letters to freelancers and full-time writers, Tormohlen tells them to ask for head shots of any or all their sources. Ray likes to work with manufacturers and sometimes asks their help in taking cover photographs. For example, John Deere has its own in-house studio and a library of images.

Both speakers said make an attempt to gain first rights to use photographs. Ray said when outside organizations like manufacturers run a photo shoot for a magazine cover, she requests that the magazine be allowed to publish the photo first before the outside organization publishes it.

EXPO Magazine reports on trade shows and conventions, which normally hire their own professional photographer and then allow publications to use the photographs for free, Tormohlen said. Convention and visitors bureaus at cities playing host to events generally have their own free images, too. Many times the images are ready to be downloaded from a website.

Picture savings
When publications can afford professional photographers, they can save money by hiring the apprentice instead of the head photographer, Ray said. Although not as experienced, the apprentice has access to the same studio and the same camera equipment. Contacting colleges also can lead to finding students who will work for a discounted rate, Ray said. Other photographers will offer a discounted rate if an agreement is reached to use them for a certain number of photo shoots per year.

Magazine cover photographs can eat up a good portion of a design budget, but they offer a great way to get a magazine noticed. Ray said she likes to perambulate through the magazine section of a book store and see which publication covers “pop out.”

Tormohlen said every other issue she tries to do a photo shoot for the cover, which can run $1,000. She selects issues where a story will lead to a good photo shoot.

“Some months we spend zero, and some months we spend $1,000,” she said. “It really depends upon the photographer we get in and where they want to have the photo shoot.”

Take it inside
Ray said her company bought a digital camera that several magazines use. Now, in-house photographers can shoot cover photographs for the two magazines she works for, she said. Publishing companies also might save money by paying for continuing education classes at area colleges, which can allow artists to pick up new skills and negate the need to contract out for such work, Ray said.

Both Ray and Tormohlen said issue reviews, which involve critiquing photographs and designs, can lead to better quality. Tormohlen said she likes to invite people outside the editorial department and art department, such as the publisher, sales representatives and circulation personnel, to a free lunch inside a conference room. There, they can spend about an hour critiquing the latest issue’s design and photography.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Apply for a Young Leaders Scholarship

The ASBPE and TABPI have begun accepting applications for the 2007 Young Leaders Scholarship. The scholarship helps B2B editors who 30 years old or younger attend the ASBPE National Editorial Conference and Awards Banquet.

This year's conference will be in New York City, Aug. 2-3. The scholarship covers the conference fees and hotel-room costs. The ASBPE selects five editors who work in the United States. Winners who are not already ASBPE members recieve one-year memberships. TABPI selects two editors from outside of the United States to attend. TABPI winners receive $500 for airfare.

I was honored to have been selected as a 2006 scholarship winner. Immediate past president of the KC chapter, Amy Fischbach, is a 2002 scholarship winner. I highly recommend young editors to apply. It's a wonderful opportunity to attend the national conference, learn from industry leaders and meet other editors from around the country -- and world.

The application deadline is May 1.

Tabbie Entries Due March 7

You have until Wednesday to get in your submissions for this year's Tabbie awards. The awards are sponsored by Trade, Association and Business Publications International (TABPI) and cosponsored by the ASBPE.

The international awards competition is open to all English-language magazines published at least quarterly.

Click here for a PDF of the entry form.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

March Meeting: Dirt Cheap Design

Creative tips for editors and art directors with limited art budgets

Finally, there's a subject both Editors and Art Directors can agree upon. We're all tired of trying to make our magazines look interesting and inviting to our readers on a virtually nonexistent art budget. In the same boat?

Well, since it's not likely your budget is going to increase significantly any time soon, editors and designers need to put their heads together to come up with creative solutions to this problem. It's not just pretty pictures and commissioned art ... well-chosen (and cheap) devices like pull
quotes, sidebars, photo cutlines, etc. can make your publication more inviting at little or no cost.

The Kansas City chapter of the ASBPE invites you to attend our March 7 meeting at Hayward's Barbeque restaurant in Overland Park (College & Antioch). We'll share the keys for editors and art directors to develop well-designed magazines even on little or nonexistent art budgets.

Who should attend: anyone on your editorial or design staff who is interested in learning (and sharing) ways we can all make our magazines better.

Date: Wednesday, March 7, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Location: Private room at Hayward's (11051 Antioch St. in Overland Park)

Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members

RSVP: To reserve your spot for the luncheon, e-mail or call Bill King a 913-338-1503, by Monday, March 5.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Work the Web Better

Steve Roll, president of the ASBPE Washington, D.C., chapter has some great tips for improving your online work. Read it here: ASBPE Washington, D.C. Chapter: Online Productivity Tips for B2B Editors.

His top two are the same as mine. If you haven't tried using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer (which no longer supports its Mac version) or Gmail instead of, well, any other mail application (web-based or otherwise), you're missing out on two great resources.

Not only does Gmail allow you to tag messages with as many keywords as you choose (instead of placing each email in only one folder) it has even integrated GTalk, its instant messaging service, which means you can reply to an e-mail as a chat and it's saved in the subject string with the original e-mail.

Google my be taking over the Internet--and therefore the world--but at least its doing it in a friendly, useful way that's free for me. There are some other nice Google features that I've integrated into my workflow:
  • Google Notebook to quickly save snippets from websites that I want to remember.
  • Blogger for this blog. I know some publications are using it as well for their first blog trials. And it has recently undergone a facelift and is easier than ever to use.
  • Docs & Spreadsheets, which allows you to collaborate on documents with others.
And for those of you who do a lot of instant messaging (IM) using a plethora of services (AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Gtalk, ICQ, MSN Messenger, etc.) you can consolidate. I recommend Gaim (for PCs) and Adium (for Macs). These are two great--and free--programs that compile all of your IM profiles and buddy lists into one easy-to-use interface.

IntelliTXT trouble at Ziff Davis

Ziff Davis' eWeek is getting blasted by the B2B blogs for its use of contextual ads. Below are thoughts posted by Martha Spizziri, the vice president of the ASBPE Boston chapter. (See her original post: ASBPE Boston Blog: eWeek/IntelliTXT Flap.)

In case you missed it: Woburn-based Ziff Davis publication eWeek has been the subject of some Internet controversy for its use of IntelliTXT contextual ads, which are hotlinked from within the text of editorial content. The IntelliTXT service was developed by the company Vibrant Media.

Rather than repeat what's already been said, I'll direct you to some of what's been written about it:

One thing I will repeat that's mentioned in Paul Conley's post: ASBPE's ethics guidelines state

The editorial department should control all editorial content on a publication’s digital publication, including Web site, blogs, e-newsletters, digital magazines, and others. Standards such as accuracy, attribution, fairness, and balance applying to a publication’s printed editorial material also apply to a publication’s Internet or digital presence.

Care should be used online, as with printed material, to avoid placement of advertisements in or near editorial content in a way that could compromise editorial integrity or confuse the reader.

And I do have a few comments about this 2004 post from John Battelle's Searchblog, which Matt McAlister's post above also links to: "IntelliTXT: Your Advertising Peanut Butter Is In My Editorial Chocolate..." Although the piece is almost three years old, Battelle makes an interesting devil's-advocate argument that contextual ads within articles might not be so bad after all. Battelle's reasoning, in brief:

... [M]agazines that are essentially catalog magazines ('magalogs'), or most of the Seven Sisters (Glamour, Vogue, etc) ... pretty much exist to move product, and they don't pretend otherwise. A system like this would work quite well for the online kin to these kind of publications. ...

Second, there are an entire classes of content-driven sites which claim absolutely no pretense of editorial objectivity. Whether they are fan sites, directories, blogs, corporate advertorials, for-profit domain-specific portals, you name it, the tradition of sites which carry their biases proudly or are baldly commercial in nature is rich and growing, and IntelliTXT may well give these kind of sites a new monetization model.

Leaving aside whether directories, blogs, and fan sites are, or ought to be, commercial in nature, I'd say that at best the IntelliTXT model is annoying--in the same way that even editorial links can be annoying when the text is vague. In both cases, you aren't really sure what kind of information you'll get if you click.

IntelliTXT links are distinguished from editorial links by a green double-underline format, and Stevenson tells Battelle that the links are a service, and that the reader won't see the ad unless she makes a conscious choice to click an IntelliTXT link. But the format is not enough to distinguish them as ads to the casual user, at least at this point in IntelliTXT's life. And -- in the 2007 iteration, at least--you don't have to click on the link for the ad to appear. Just rolling over it does the trick.

It's also interesting that, according to Battelle, Stevenson basically argues that the links don't inherently represent a conflict because the publisher decides what words to link, so that if the links aren't appropriate, it's the publisher's responsibility. Battelle doesn't quote Stevenson's exact words, but if Stevenson did in fact mention only the publisher, I wonder why he doesn't think the editor should be the decision maker when it comes to links.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Meeting Recap, Part 2: Target editorial copy by niche to avoid advertorials

Be on the look out for more veiled advertorials in 2007. Phil Musser, publisher of Transmission & Distribution World, said he has seen an increase in the amount of advertorials in his sector of the business-to-business publication industry over the past year.

Some publications are becoming more innovative in how they present advertorials, he said while speaking Jan. 17 at a Kansas City chapter meeting of the American Society of Business Publication Editors titled “Trends in B2B Publishing.” Advertisers often sponsor what a publishing company may call a guide, sourcebook or case study.

“Was that a guide or a sourcebook?” Musser said. “No, it was a different way for them to draw a veil and plop in contributed pieces that were lock, stock and barrel written biased.”

Transmission & Distribution World, based in Overland Park, Kan., and a publication of Prism Business Media, takes a different approach, Musser said.

“We try to make a distinction between a targeted focus of what you’re going after by sector or by niche vs. advertorial,” he said.

He added companies in the business-to-business publication arena can find other avenues of growth:
  • Developing a partnership with an existing trade shows can provide an opportunity if a publishing company or magazine is the exclusive media partner.
  • Blogs and webinars are getting closer to going online for Transmission & Distribution World. The electronic media also can make it easier for Transmission & Distribution World to expand its reach internationally since mailing costs are not involved.
  • A market opportunity exists for research information in the power sector since utilities are not providing financial support to research institutions and associations like they formerly did.
“They are always calling us, asking us for (research information),” Musser said. “That is an opportunity for us.”

Meeting Recap, Part 1: Manage your brand to thrive in online revolution

Brand stewards, although their job titles might say editor, may lead the online revolution in business-to-business publications. Cameron Bishop, president and chief executive officer of Ascend Media in Overland Park, Kan., offered the term and the prediction when he spoke Jan. 17 at a Kansas City chapter meeting of the American Society of Business Publication Editors titled “Trends in B2B Publishing.”

“You are brand stewards,” he told the editors. “You are no longer editors of a magazine. You are managers of a brand.”

Bishop said the title of editor may be outdated. He added the American Society of Business Publication Editors even should consider changing its name.

“I would submit to you that that title is antiquated,” he said of the editor title. “I would submit to you that you all begin to call yourselves directors of content or content managers or content creators. Our business today is about the creation and dissemination of content. It is not about editing a magazine. It is far more than that.”

Bishop defined another term: media agnostic. No longer does content appear solely in print magazines.

“Media agnostic is what we are about today in the creation of content,” he said. Ascend Media delivers content through many outlets — print products, online outlets, e-mal newsletters, wireless handheld PDA devices and various shows and conferences.

The multiple mediums can offer advertising opportunities. Annual growth of 8 percent to 10 percent was common in print publication advertising in the late 1990s, he said, but it’s now fallen to 1 percent to 2 percent.

“The (advertising) budgets are the same, but dollars are being allocated in different ways, and most of those dollars are going online,” he said. Ascend Media saw 500 percent growth in online revenue in 2006, he added.

During the online transformation, editors/brand stewards need to think differently in several areas, Bishop said. Not only should they know the circulation of their publications, they also need to know their websites’ traffic numbers.

“If you don’t know the traffic statistics of your website, you’re not doing part of your job,” Bishop said.

Bishop has challenged Ascend Media to have video capability, such as podcasts, on all its websites within the year. He wants to equip every editorial team with a digital video camera, which he compared to micro cassette recorders. Whereas decades ago reporters began carrying recorders with them for interviews, now they can take digital video cameras.

Editors also should find ways to use print publications to promote the websites. They can put a table of contents for the online product inside the print product.

“Your print product is a promotional vehicle for your Internet product,” Bishop said. “If you don’t choose to think of it as such, then shame on you.”

Thought also should be given to archived content, said Phil Musser, publisher of Transmission & Distribution World, who also spoke at the Kansas City chapter meeting. Transmission & Distribution World, based in Overland Park, Kan., and a publication of Prism Business Media, contracts out content.

“We’re going back now and tagging content,” Musser said. “We’ve got nine years of feature content on the websites. To be able to sell content categories, we’ve got to put it in the right bucket and have the right association.”

Finding veterans for advice on all these online topics could prove difficult, Bishop said.

“There are no experts because it’s all too new,” he said. “It’s a highly entrepreneurial world we’re in today. We’re making it up as we go along.”

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

January meeting: Trends in publishing

The Kansas City chapter of the ASBPE invites you to attend our Jan. 17 meeting, where we’ll discuss the forecast for publishing companies and the challenges magazine staffs will soon face.

Ron Wall, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Ascend Media
Phil Musser, publisher for Transmission and Distribution World at Prism Business Media

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Location: Private room at McCormick and Schmick’s on the Country Club Plaza (448 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo., 64112; 816-531-6800)

Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members

RSVP: To reserve your spot for the luncheon, e-mail Bill King or call 913-338-1503, by Monday, Jan. 14.